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Bucky's 'Best of the Decade' revealed



Jan. 4, 2010

All through the month of December, UWBadgers.com asked fans to vote on what they thought were the best teams, student-athletes and plays of the last decade for the University of Wisconsin. Well, the results are in and we have our winners!

In the category of "Play of the Decade, Lee Evans' 79-yard touchdown reception from backup quarterback Matt Schabert that gave Wisconsin a 17-10 win over No. 3 Ohio State in 2003 took home top honors, garnering 20.2 percent of the vote (watch play here). In second place, with 16.4 percent of the vote, was Jonathan Casillas' punt block vs. Minnesota in 2005 that Ben Strickland recovered in the end zone, resulting in the Badgers' 38-34 win in Minneapolis (watch play here). The third "Play of the Decade," with 12.2 percent of the vote, was Michael Flowers' game-winning 3-pointer and steal vs. Texas that gave UW a 67-66 win in Austin over the ninth-ranked Longhorns (watch play here).

"Student-Athlete of the Decade" was dominated by in-state performers as Wisconsin natives swept the top three spots, with football player Jim Leonhard coming out on top. Leonhard, a former walk-on from Tony, Wis., who became a three-time first-team All-American, garnered 21.6 percent of the vote. Brookfield native Joe Thomas, the 2006 Lombardi Award winner and a two-time All-American left tackle, placed second with 14.6 percent of the vote. In third place was Chris Solinsky, a former track and cross country runner from Stevens Point who won five NCAA titles in his Badger career, with 13.2 percent of the vote. Rounding out the top five were women's hockey player Sara Bauer (11.6 percent) and volleyball player Lizzy Fitzgerald (9.7 percent).

"Team of the Decade" produced the closest finish with the top three teams separated by just eight votes. The 2005-06 men's hockey team, which won the NCAA title with a thrilling championship-game win over Boston College at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, took top honors with 16.7 percent of the vote. Another NCAA champion, the 2007 men's indoor track team, was right behind in second place with 15.6 percent of the vote. In third place, with 15.0 percent of the vote, was the 2006-07 men's basketball team that set a school record with 30 wins and became the first men's basketball team in school history to be ranked No. 1 in the country.

Below is a look at the top 10 vote-getters in each category:

Play of the Decade
1. FB - Lee Evans' 79-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Matt Schabert to give UW a 17-10 win over No. 3 Ohio State (Oct. 11, 2003)
2. FB - Jonathan Casillas blocks a punt for a touchdown with 30 seconds left to give UW a 38-34 win at Minnesota (Oct. 15, 2005)
3. MBB - Michael Flowers makes a 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left then steals the ensuing inbounds pass to give UW a 67-66 win at No. 9 Texas (Dec. 29, 2007)
4. FB - Scott Starks returns a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown to give UW a 20-17 win over fifth-ranked Purdue (Oct. 16, 2004)
5. MHKY - Jack Skille scores the game-winning goal in the third overtime against Cornell to advance to the Frozen Four (March 26, 2006)
6. MBB - Devin Harris makes one of two free throws with 0.4 seconds left to beat Illinois and give UW the 2003 Big Ten Championship (March 5, 2003)
7. WHKY - Jinelle Zaugg breaks a scoreless tie with a goal in the fourth OT to lead UW past Harvard and into the Frozen Four (March 10, 2007)
8. MHKY - Tom Gilbert scores the game-winning goal in the third period against Boston College in the NCAA Championship Game (April 8, 2006)
9. MBB - Freddie Owens makes a game-winning 3-pointerwith 1.0 second left vs. Tulsa that capped a 13-point comeback and sent UW to the Sweet 16 (March 22, 2003)
10. MBB - Trevon Hughes' three-point play gives UW a 61-59 win over No. 5 seed Florida State in the first round of the NCAA tournament (March 20, 2009)

Student-Athlete of the Decade
1. Jim Leonhard (Football - 2001-04)
2. Joe Thomas (Football - 2003-06)
3. Chris Solinsky (Men's Track & Cross Country - 2003-07)
4. Sara Bauer (Women's Hockey - 2004-07)
5. Lizzy Fitzgerald (Volleyball - 1998-01)
6. Jamie McBain (Men's Hockey - 2006-09)
7. Carly Piper (Women's Swimming - 2002-05)
8. Beau Hoopman (Men's Rowing - 2001-03)
9. Simon Bairu (Men's Cross Country - 2002-05)
10. Brian Elliott (Men's Hockey - 2004-07)

Team of the Decade
1. 2005-06 Men's Hockey
2. 2007 Men's Indoor Track
3. 2006-07 Men's Basketball
4. 2009 Women's lightweight rowing
5. 2006 Women's lightweight rowing
6. 2006-07 Women's Hockey
7. 2004 Women's lightweight rowing
8. 2005 Men's Cross Country
9. 2005 Women's lightweight rowing
10. 2008 Men's Rowing

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